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Monday, Mar 18, 2002

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Duty on tobacco

The Centre's decision to reduce the basic Customs duty on cigarettes and unmanufactured tobacco to 30 per cent from the current 35 per cent (`Cut in import duty annoys tobacco cos', Business Line, March 5) comes as a surprise. The move is antithetical to the steps taken by the Government and the Union Health Ministry to curb tobacco consumption.

In fact the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which has been debating the Central Tobacco Bill, has recommended raising the import duty on cigarette to 150 per cent. It has now been substantially proved that a large quantity of non-duty paid or contraband cigarettes is being sold in the country under the garb of imported cigarette. Health experts have warned of the serious health hazards of cheap imported cigarettes that do not carry the health warning in the proper format. Such steps as reducing import duty will only promote the smuggling of cigarettes.

There is a need for better coordination between various ministries so that the steps taken by one ministry does not contravene the efforts made by another ministry.

Nupur Sethi


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